Apple Watch Series 8 vs. Apple Watch Ultra Buyer's Guide
At its "Far out" event earlier this month, alongside the Apple Watch Series 8, Apple announced the Apple Watch Ultra. The Apple Watch Ultra is a whole new kind of smartwatch from Apple with a focus on withstanding extreme environments, a high level of durability, extended battery life, and additional features to aid activities like diving and exploration.
Both the Apple Watch Series 8 and the Apple Watch Ultra feature the S8 chip, an Always-On Retina display, Crash Detection, temperature sensing, IP6X dust resistance, and more, but there are significant differences between the two devices.
With as little as $50 between the 45mm stainless steel Apple Watch Series 8 and the Apple Watch Ultra, some prospective customers will be weighing up whether it is worth spending a little extra to get the all-new 49mm model. While there is a $400 difference between the 41mm aluminum Apple Watch Series 8 and the Apple Watch Ultra, the new high-end model offers a whole new set of features to address specific challenges, so it may even be worth it for some of these buyers.
Apple Watch Series 8
- Aluminum or stainless steel casing
- Curved design
- Digital Crown with haptic feedback and side button
- 45mm or 41 mm case size (vertical)
- 10.7mm thickness
- Weighs 32.0 grams to 51.5 grams
- Ion-X front glass (aluminum) or sapphire crystal (stainless steel)
- Curved display with refractive edge
- 904 sq mm (41mm) or 1,143 sq mm (45mm) display area
- 352 by 430 pixels (41mm) or 396 by 484 pixels (45mm)
- Up to 1,000 nits brightness
- Single speaker
- Single microphone
- Bluetooth 5.3
- Water resistant to 50m
- Up to 18-hour battery life
- Available in Midnight, Starlight, Silver, and PRODUCT(RED) (aluminum) or Silver, Graphite, or Gold (stainless steel)
- Starts at $399 (aluminum) and $699 (stainless steel)
Apple Watch Ultra
- Aerospace-grade titanium casing
- Lightweight weight, ruggedness, and corrosion resistant case with raised edges to protect the flat sapphire front crystal
- Digital Crown with haptic feedback, side button, and customizable Action button
- 49mm casing size (vertical)
- 14.4mm thickness
- Weighs 61.3 grams
- Sapphire crystal
- Flat display
- 1164 sq mm display area
- 410 by 502 pixels
- Up to 2,000 nits brightness
- Exclusive Wayfinder face features a live compass for navigation and Night Mode for low-visibility conditions
- Dual speakers (40% louder than Series 8)
- Three-microphone array with beamforming and wind noise mitigation
- 86-decibel Siren to attract attention
- Precision dual-frequency GPS (L1 and L5)
- Bluetooth 5.3
- Tested to MIL-STD 810H
- Water resistant to 100m
- Swimproof and recreational dive to 40m
- EN13319 certification
- Water temperature sensor
- Depth gauge
- Dive computer app (available on the App Store)
- Up to 36-hour battery life
- Natural titanium finish only
- Starts at $799
The Apple Watch Ultra offers new capabilities to address the specific requirements of those who need their Apple Watch to provide assistance in challenging environments. If you need a more durable Apple Watch with features like a brighter display, louder speakers, a more reliable GPS, better water resistance, and more, the Apple Watch Ultra is undoubtedly the best choice.
The Apple Watch Ultra is also the largest and most feature-rich Apple Watch option available, not to mention that it offers the first true redesign of the device since its introduction in 2015. For technology enthusiasts, Apple Watch Ultra represents a way to get a whole new Apple Watch experience with the top specifications. Features like longer battery life and a larger, brighter display are also highly accessible, and will be beneficial to all users. As such, some customers may still be inclined to choose the Apple Watch Ultra over the Apple Watch Series 8, even if they do not need it for use in challenging environments.
As the largest Apple Watch model to date, the size of the Apple Watch Ultra will not be for everyone. If you already prefer the 41mm Apple Watch casing size, the Apple Watch Ultra may be far too large for you. If in doubt, it may be worth heading to an Apple Store and trying on the Apple Watch Ultra in person to get to grips with the size and determine if it is too big and bulky for you.
Similarly, the Apple Watch Ultra's look may not appeal to some buyers. If you prefer the stainless steel Apple Watch and are looking for a more fasion-focused smartwatch that pairs well with metal and leather bands, the more aggressive, rugged design of the Apple Watch Ultra may not be for you.
If the Apple Watch Ultra is out of your price range but you still want to use your Apple Watch in challenging environments, it is worth bearing in mind that the Series 8 still offers a durable design with a strong front crystal, water resistance, and many of the Apple Watch Ultra's software features like waypoint marking.
The Apple Watch Ultra has a lot to offer, especially for the subset of users who can take advantage of all of its capabilities, so it is certainly worth considering when purchasing a new model – but the Apple Watch Series 8 is still a compelling all-around option that comes in at a lower price point with a subtler design.